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Morris Grove Fourth Grade Students Explore Blue Ridge Parkway

Nearly 100 fourth grade Morris Grove Elementary School (MGES) students and 40 chaperones carried out a cheerful and educational “invasion” of the Blue Ridge Parkway earlier this month. Children and adults alike were delighted to explore the historic treasure of North Carolina. Soon after they returned, they were treated to a presentation by Ann and David Whisnant, two eminent scholars on the Parkway, and authors of the children’s book, “When the Parkway Came,” as well as the iconic guide, “Super-Scenic Motorway: A Blue Ridge Parkway History.”

Gretchen Westman, MGES librarian and tech specialist, worked with the fourth grade teaching team to develop a unit that focused on the impact of the Blue Ridge Parkway on the state. Tamra Schuch, fourth grade teacher at MGES, said, “After studying the history and impact of the Blue Ridge Parkway, our state’s 469 mile National Park, fourth graders took a trip to the mountains to experience some of the sights found along the parkway, such as Grandfather Mountain, the LInville Caverns, and Upper Linville Falls.”

Schuch said, “During this collaborative effort, we decided to use a mentor text called, ‘When the Parkway Came.’” Westman contacted the Whisnants to see if they might be available to share information about the way they crafted their story. Four years later, this ‘Meet the Authors’ event has become an annual tradition for fourth graders. At the end of this year’s presentation, the authors surprised and delighted each of our fourth graders with an autographed copy of their book!”

MGES students listen to Parkway profs Westman said, “I just reached out to them as local authors. They have been wonderful to us and I know they really enjoy coming every year. The presentation addresses so many relevant topics - the Parkway itself, the treasure hunt that is historical research, the writer’s process, ethical use of information. We are so fortunate to have developed this partnership with them.”